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Zim agrees to sell blood diamonds

Jun 30 2010 12:24 Jan Raath

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Harare - Zimbabwe's coalition government has agreed to immediately start selling diamonds from the controversial Chiazwa diamond field.

The decision, reported by the state-owned "Herald" and citing Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, defies a continuing worldwide ban on the sale of Chiadzwa gems because of human rights abuses.

"It was clear from the meeting that the cabinet agrees with the immediate sale of our diamonds," said Mpofu. "However, we need to come up with a mechanism of proceeding with this process."

Chiadzwa, regarded as the wealthiest diamond field discovery in the world in a century, has been embroiled in controversy for several years.

In 2006, the army violently drove out around 35,000 illegal miners.

Human rights groups say an estimated 200 people were killed and thousands assaulted. Soldiers are also accused of looting and smuggling out diamonds.

The Kimberley Process (KP) diamond certification scheme, which is aimed at curbing the trade in diamonds used to fuel conflict, banned Zimbabwe from exporting diamonds after the alleged abuses came to light.

The government has reportedly accumulated a stockpile of about 4.5 million carats of Chiadzwa diamonds since the ban came into effect late last year.

A recent meeting of KP members in Israel failed to agree on the assessment earlier this month by a KP monitor that Zimbabwe had met minimum requirements for selling diamonds.

The watchdog body is due to meet again in November. 

 - Sapa

 

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